Archive

Archive for January, 2011

Essay e-Grading

Let’s face it; computers are here to stay. However, teachers haven’t always been on the forefront of using technology to improve instruction. One area in which teachers can significantly improve their instructional approach without additional investment is in using the computer to respond to and grade student essays. Whether using on-line response or simply using the computer to generate responses to print out for paper submissions, the computer will save the teacher significant time. Now, we are not talking about automatic grading programs… The NCTE has rightly produced policy statements against these applications. The teacher has the responsibility to control the quality and quantity of writing response. However, the teacher can use the computer to store often-used comments that both identify errors and teach what is good writing. Additionally, the ability to insert links and audio comments makes the stages of the writing process truly an interactive teacher-student experience.

Following are articles, free resources, and teaching tips regarding how to teach essay strategies from the Pennington Publishing Blog. Also, check out the quality instructional programs and resources offered by Pennington Publishing.

How to Add Essay e-Comments to Your Computer

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/writing/how-to-add-essay-e-comments-to-your-computer/

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if teachers could type and save their commonly-used “canned” writing comments to automatically insert into student essays without all the bother of copying and pasting? What a time-saver this would be! It’s easily done and you have the tools you need right on your desktop or laptop in Microsoft Word®. Plus, you don’t have to be a computer programmer to get the job done.

Writing Guides, English Handbooks, and Style Manuals

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/grammar_mechanics/writers-guides-english-handbooks-and-style-manuals/

Remember using Warriner’s English Grammar and Composition back in high school and Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style back in college? Many students found these resources to be indispensable writing partners for essays and term papers. Writing Guides, English Handbooks, and Style Manuals all provide useful tools to students and professional writers alike. However, print copies are often out of date as soon as they are published. With commonly accepted guidelines in flux, the resources of the web are much better suited to the needs of today’s writers.

Constantly updated, The Pennington Manual of Style has been designed to serve as a writer’s reference guide for fourth-twelfth grade students and their teachers… with one major improvement over the old Warriner’s English Grammar and Composition and The Elements of Style: This style manual is fully interactive with 438 downloadable essay e-comments to make essay response efficient and comprehensive.

How to Write Effective Essay Comments

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/writing/how-to-write-effective-essay-comments/

Conscientious teachers know that merely completing a holistic rubric and totaling the score for a grade is not effective essay response or writing assessment. Teachers may choose to grade and/or respond with essay comments after the rough draft and/or after the final draft. Using the types of comments that match the teacher’s instructional objectives is essential. Additionally, keeping in mind the key components of written discourse can balance responses between form and content. Finally, most writing instructors include closing comments to emphasize and summarize their responses. Here’s how to write truly effective essay comments.

How to Use the Computer to Grade Essays

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/grammar_mechanics/using-computers-to-grade-essays/

Thought I’d share how I started using computers to grade essays and offer fellow teachers a great resource to provide better essay response and cut grading time by half. Years ago I played around with the Insert Comments feature of Microsoft Word® and learned how to put in and format the bubble comments. But, it took hours to cut and paste the comments into each computer. I whined about this once too often until my computer-savvy son found a way to insert my entire 438 e-comment bank into any computer with Microsoft Word® 2003, 2007, 2010, 2013 (Windows XP, Vista, and Win 7/8 all work fine). He developed a simple download. I would love to have every teacher get this download and use these 438 Essay e-Comments.

Why Using Essay e-Comments Makes Sense

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/grammar_mechanics/why-using-essay-e-comments-makes-sense/

We have computers. Let’s use them! Using the computer to store and insert often-used essay comments is efficient, saves time, and just does a better overall job of essay response and grading. Moving beyond writing comments, we can also insert hyperlinks to suggest content revision. Why not insert audio files to summarize comments? Plus, the social context of computers enhances peer revision. This article helps teachers problem-solve how to manage an interactive teacher-student writing experience using both home and school computers.

Essay Comment Excuses

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/grammar_mechanics/essay-comment-excuses/

Teachers know that detailed essay comments are keys to effective writing instruction but are adept at creating essay comment excuses to avoid the time and energy it takes to do the job. But, how can we do a great job with essay response and still maintain some semblance of a life outside of work? Canned comments. Ones to cut and paste from your computer. But… really good ones.

Grammar Checkers for Teachers

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/grammar_mechanics/grammar-checkers-for-teachers/

Conscientious teachers still mark up and comment grammar and usage issues on student essays, but it’s exhausting and time-consuming. So, naturally, teachers look for short-cuts that will save energy and time, but ones which will still give students what they need as developing writers. Enter spell checker and grammar checker software. Whereas spelling checkers, either as a stand-alone software or as a tool embedded in word processing programs such as Microsoft Word®, do a reasonable job of finding spelling errors (other than troublesome homonyms), grammar checkers simply cannot replicate that effectiveness. But there are some helpful resources to lighten the teacher’s load…

For those teachers interested in saving time and doing a more thorough job of essay response and grading, check out the The Pennington Manual of StyleThis style manual serves as a wonderful writer’s reference guide with all of the writing tips from the author’s comprehensive essay writing curriculum:  Teaching Essay Strategies. The style manual (included in the Common Core aligned Teaching Essay Strategies, also includes a download of the 438 writing, grammar, mechanics, and spelling comments teachers use most often in essay response and grading. Placed in the Autocorrects function of Microsoft Word® 2003, 2007, 2010, 2013 (XP, Vista,  Windows 7, 8, and 10), teachers can access each comment with a simple mouse click to insert into online student essays or print/e-mail for paper submissions. Each comment identifies the error or writing issue, defines terms, and gives examples so that student writers are empowered to correct/revise on their own. This approach to essay comments produces significantly more accountability and transfer to subsequent writing.

Grammar/Mechanics, Spelling/Vocabulary, Writing , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How to Teach Sentence Diagramming

Sentence diagramming can be a useful visual tool to teach students how to identify the different parts of sentences, understand how these parts function, and see how these parts relate to other parts of a sentence. Most students find that the visual image helps them better understand and remember grammatical terms, the parts of a sentence, and the basic rules of grammar. Sentence diagrams take the abstract components of English grammar and make them concrete. With practice, writers can use diagramming to diagnose their own grammatical errors and fix them.

Objectives: Students will learn the how a sentence diagram depicts the subject, predicate, direct object, and indirect object of a sentence. Students will learn the definitions of these parts of the sentence. Students will apply proper nouns, action verbs, common nouns, and object case pronouns to their diagrams.

Check out the attached How to Teach Sentence Diagramming file to see the complete diagrams.

Lesson #1

  1. Draw a simple horizontal line and write a subject on top to the left. Make the subject a proper noun and define the word as “the do-er” of the sentence.
  2. Draw a vertical line after the subject and extend it just under the line.
  3. Write a predicate on top of the horizontal line, just to the right of the vertical line. Make the predicate a present tense action verb that will easily lead to a direct object without an article (a, an, and the). Define the predicate as “the action” of the subject and “what the ‘do-er’ does.”
  4. Have students replicate the lines and then insert their own subjects (proper nouns only) and predicates (present tense action verbs only). Share examples and discuss, making sure to use the exact language of instruction.

Lesson #2       Building onto the Lesson #1 Diagram

  1. Draw another vertical line after the predicate, but don’t extend it under the horizontal line.
  2. Write a direct object on top of the horizontal line, just to the right of the second vertical line. Make the direct object be a common noun that doesn’t need an article. Define the direct object as the word that answers “What?” or “Who” from the predicate.
  3. Have students add the second vertical line on to their Lesson #1 Diagram and insert their own subjects, predicates, and direct objects (common nouns only). Don’t allow students to use articles at this point. Share examples and discuss, making sure to use the exact language of instruction.

Lesson #3       Building onto the Lesson #2 Diagram

  1. Draw a vertical line down from the horizontal line below the predicate.
  2. Write an indirect object to the right of the vertical line. Make the indirect object be a pronoun. Define the indirect object as the word that answers “To or For What?” or “To or For Whom” from the predicate.
  3. Have students add the vertical line on to their Lesson #2 Diagram and insert their own subjects, predicates, direct objects (common nouns only), and indirect objects (pronouns only). Don’t allow students to use articles at this point. Share examples and discuss, making sure to use the exact language of instruction.

After these three foundational lessons, I advocate more recognition practice and less application practice. The teacher should provide partially completed diagrams to promote interactive discussion on a specific lesson focus.

Example

Lesson Focus: Indirect Objects Practice

  • The teacher displays a model sentence and its sentence diagram with a missing indirect object.
  • The teacher asks students to identify and place the indirect object to the right of the vertical line below the horizontal line.
  • The teacher writes the in the indirect object and asks students to explain how the indirect object relates to the other parts of the sentence.
  • The teacher rehearses the definition of the indirect object: An indirect object tells to whom, for whom, to what, or for what the action of the verb is completed. A sentence with an indirect object must also have a direct object. Usually, the indirect object is found between a verb and a direct object.

This procedure achieves the instructional objective without making students construct the whole sentence. If you’re studying a leaf, you don’t have to draw the whole tree.

Hints for Down the Road

On the Horizontal Baseline*

-Place all parts of the predicate verb phrase on the horizontal line between the subject and direct object (has been said).

-If the object is a predicate noun or adjective, draw a backslash ( \ ) slanting toward the subject (He | is / Tom) (He | is / nice).

-Place implied subjects in the subject place within parentheses, for example (You).

-Place appositives after the subject or object within parentheses (Tom (the man in red)).

*After the first three lessons, it is best to refer to the horizontal line as the baseline because more advanced sentence diagrams may have multiple horizontal lines.

Expanding the Baseline

Compound subjects (Tom and Sue) and compound predicates (talked and shopped) are drawn as multiple horizontal lines stacked vertically and are joined at each end by a fan of diagonal lines. The coordinating conjunction (and) is placed next to a dotted vertical line that connects the left ends of the horizontal lines.

Below the Baseline

-Modifiers

Modifiers of the subject, predicate, or object are placed below the baseline. Adjectives (including articles) and adverbs are placed to the right of forward slashes (/), below the words they modify.

-Prepositional Phrases

Prepositional phrases (under the tree) are also placed beneath the words they modify. Prepositions are placed to the right of forward slashes (/), below the words they modify and the forward slashes are connected to the horizontal lines on which the objects of the prepositions are placed.

-Compound Sentences

Compound sentences (Tom walked home, and Sue followed him) are diagrammed separately with the verbs of the two clauses joined by a vertical dotted line with the conjunction written next to the dotted line.

-Subordinate (Dependent) Clauses

Subordinate (dependent clauses) (Although Tom walked home, …) connect the verbs of the two clauses with a dotted forward slash next to which the subordinating conjunction is written. Subordinate (dependent) clauses form their own subject-verb-object baselines.

-Participles and Participial Phrases

A participle (practicing…) is drawn to the right of a backslash, except that a small horizontal line branches off at the end on which the suffix er, _ing, _en, _d, or _ed is written. With a participial phrase, the additional word or words are placed after a vertical line following the participial suffix (practicing soccer).

-Relative Clauses

Relative clauses (whom I know) connect the subject or object of the baseline with a dotted line to the relative pronoun (that, who, whom, which) which begins its own subject-verb-object baseline.

Above the Baseline

-Gerunds and Gerund Phrases

Gerunds (Running) are placed on a horizontal line, connected to a vertical line descending to the baseline. The _ing is written to the right of a backslash at the end of the horizontal line. With a gerund phrase (Running effortlessly), the additional word or words are connected to the backslash on another horizontal line.

-Interjections

Interjections (Hey), Expletives (There), and Nouns of Direct Address are placed on horizontal lines above the baseline and are not connected to the baseline.

-Noun Clauses

Noun clauses (What you should know) branch up from the subject or object sections of the baseline with solid lines and form their own baselines with subject-verb-object vertical lines.

For additional grammatical constructions and sentence diagram samples, I highly recommend these sister sites:

http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/diagrams2/one_pager2.htm

http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/diagrams2/one_pager1.htm

The author of this article, Mark Pennington, has written the assessment-based Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) Grades 4-8 programs to teach the Common Core Language Standards. Each full-year program provides 56 interactive grammar, usage, and mechanics and include sentence diagrams, error analysis, mentor texts, writing applications, and sentence dictation formative assessments with accompanying worksheets (L.1, 2). Plus, each grade-level program has weekly spelling pattern tests and accompanying spelling sort worksheets (L.2), 56 language application opener worksheets (L.3), and 56 vocabulary worksheets with multiple-meaning words, Greek and Latin word parts, figures of speech, word relationships with context clue practice, connotations, and four square academic language practice (L.4, 5, and 6). Comprehensive biweekly unit tests measure recognition, understanding, and application of all language components.

Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) also has the resources to meet the needs of diverse learners. Diagnostic grammar, usage, mechanics, and spelling assessments provide the data to enable teachers to individualize instruction with targeted worksheets. Each remedial worksheet (over 200 per program) includes independent practice and a brief formative assessment. Students CATCH Up on previous unmastered Standards while they KEEP UP with current grade-level Standards. Check out the YouTube introductory video of the Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) program.

Pennington Publishing's Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand)

Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand)
Grades 4-8 Programs

 

Grammar/Mechanics, Writing , , , ,

Does Sentence Diagramming Make Sense?

Simply put, any language’s grammar is the attempt to organize and systematize how its oral and written language works. A grammar provides a common language of instruction. It helps us understand how words function and how words are put together in a sentence to communicate effectively. It also provides rules for proper word choice, inflections, and usage.

Attempts to graphically represent a grammar are usually called diagramming. Most grammatical diagrams are designed to represent the sentence, since the sentence, by definition, is the shortest representation of a complete thought. Alonzo Reed and Brainerd Kellogg first published the graphic depictions that we call sentence diagrams in their book, Higher Lessons in English, in 1877. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sentence_diagram Linguists have always used sentence diagramming, albeit with different versions. For example, Noam Chomsky developed his own X-bar diagramming system in 1970. However, the Reed-Kellogg system has remained the most popular method because of its simplicity.

Why Teach Sentence Diagramming?

Proponents argue that sentence diagramming is a useful visual tool that allows teachers and students to identify the different parts of sentences, understand how these parts function, and see how these parts relate to other parts of the sentence. Most students find that the visual image helps them better understand and remember the parts of a sentence, grammatical terms, and the rules of grammar. Sentence diagrams make the abstract components of English grammar concrete for English speakers and writers. With a bit of practice, writers can use diagramming to diagnose their own grammatical errors and fix them.

Why Not Teach Sentence Diagramming?

Opponents argue that constructing sentence diagrams is not authentic writing; it is analysis. Understanding the parts of sentences and how they relate to one another does not necessarily mean that a student can apply this understanding to construct meaningful sentences. Correct sentences are not the same as coherent sentences. Furthermore, sentence diagramming does not go beyond the sentence level and so does not deal with connected thought, that is the paragraph level, or by extension, a unified essay. Lastly, any instructional practice is reductive—it takes away instructional time. Students learning to write benefit more from authentic writing practice, than from sentence diagramming analysis.

Does Sentence Diagramming Make Sense?

Effective writing instruction melds both analysis and practice. Students need the deductive apply-the-components/rules-of-grammar approach and the inductive practice-the-meaningful-communication of ideas-with-feedback approach to become effective writers. Some sentence diagramming does make sense: not too much to take over a writing program, but just enough to do its job. I advocate more recognition practice and less application practice. In other words, providing a sentence diagram with one or two missing words, say the direct and indirect objects, and having students identify and place those two missing parts of the sentence, achieves the instructional objective just as well as taking the time needed for students to construct the whole sentence. If you’re studying a leaf, you don’t have to draw the whole tree.

Find out How to Teach Sentence Diagramming in three 15-minute lessons. Sentence diagramming can be an effective instructional ingredient in a comprehensive standards-based grammar curriculum.

The author of this article, Mark Pennington, has written the assessment-based Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) Grades 4-8 programs to teach the Common Core Language Standards. Each full-year program provides 56 interactive grammar, usage, and mechanics and include sentence diagrams, error analysis, mentor texts, writing applications, and sentence dictation formative assessments with accompanying worksheets (L.1, 2). Plus, each grade-level program has weekly spelling pattern tests and accompanying spelling sort worksheets (L.2), 56 language application opener worksheets (L.3), and 56 vocabulary worksheets with multiple-meaning words, Greek and Latin word parts, figures of speech, word relationships with context clue practice, connotations, and four square academic language practice (L.4, 5, and 6). Comprehensive biweekly unit tests measure recognition, understanding, and application of all language components.

Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) also has the resources to meet the needs of diverse learners. Diagnostic grammar, usage, mechanics, and spelling assessments provide the data to enable teachers to individualize instruction with targeted worksheets. Each remedial worksheet (over 200 per program) includes independent practice and a brief formative assessment. Students CATCH Up on previous unmastered Standards while they KEEP UP with current grade-level Standards. Check out the YouTube introductory video of the Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) program.

Pennington Publishing's Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand)

Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand)
Grades 4-8 Programs

 

Grammar/Mechanics, Writing , , , ,

Grammar Research and Balanced Instruction

Okay. I may have crossed over to the dark side of The Force. For years, I smirked at the grammar fanatics who taught and had students practice the explicit grammatical components of the sentence. I insisted, along with my National Writing Project friends, that any grammar instruction outside of the authentic writing context was at best useless, and at its worst counter-productive. But now the Common Core State Standards have shifted my thinking. The separate Language Strand makes sense to me.

This balanced approach best makes sense of the grammar research. An approach that involves direct grammatical instruction in partnership with plenty of connected reading (sentence modeling) and writing (sentence manipulation). It’s working well with my students.

Here’s a quick summary of the two prominent theories of language acquisition and why I’ve “crossed over” to a balanced approach with grammar instruction.

My university professors taught me that all humans are born with an instinctive language acquisition device (LAD). Noam Chomsky’s “little black box,” tucked away in some corner of our brains, gives us the essential grammar rules and language organization that helps us master our native language. Cool. So all we teachers need to do is provide a literate environment, extensive modeling, and plenty of oral language practice for our students to effortlessly learn to speak and write “conventional” and “correct” English. Since the LAD is a universal grammar, the same instructional methods would work for English-language learners. Simple. Grammar that is caught is better than grammar that is taught.

Much better than the older B.F. Skinner approach that humans acquire language through the environmental interplay of stimulus and response, reward and punishment. With this behavioral model, teaching “conventional” and “correct” English would require learning good language habits. That would mean lots of direct grammar instruction, drill and kill exercises, and extensive teacher feedback (think boxes of red pens for error correction). Lots of work. Have to learn what a predicate adjective is… Grammar that is taught is better than grammar that is caught.

An eclectic approach to language acquisition theory that has gained traction in recent years has encouraged me to meld the above theories in my instructional practice. This interactionist approach posits the idea that “language develops as a result of the complex interplay between the uniquely human characteristics of the child and the environment in which the child develops” (Lightbown and Spada, 1999). In other words, a sort of umbrella approach encompassing Chomsky’s LAD and Skinner’s behaviorism. Now, this makes both instructional and practical sense to me.

In my class, I teach one mechanics and one grammar rule/skill. Students tell “what’s right” and “what’s wrong” in an interactive discussion, while they jot down the rules/skills with examples. They analyze how the grammar rule/skill is applied in a model literary sentence and in a student model sentence that I select and display (reading connection). Students complete a simple sentence diagram to see the function of the grammar within the sentence. Students read and analyze a mentor text, which uses the grammar, usage, or mechanics instructional focus. Then students apply what they’ve learned in their own short writing sample. I give dictation sentences that require students to apply the rules/skills and/or manipulate the sentence structure as a formative assessment. Students self-edit and self-correct from my display (writing connection). I often review the grammatical component with a humorous cartoon that focuses on the grammatical skill/rule. It’s working. This instruction takes 25 minutes per session and I teach this strategy twice per week. Much better than D.O.L. or D.L.R. because I have a planned, standards-based instructional scope and sequence. I’m not just “reviewing” what previous teachers purportedly have “taught.”

Oh, I also use a whole-class diagnostic grammar and mechanics assessment and differentiate instruction according to the diagnostic data through targeted worksheets. Shhh! Don’t tell my Writing Project purist friends. But, the extra practice along with my quick writers conferences to review each worksheet’s formative assessment is helping students to finally master (a split infinitive) what teachers have “taught” year after year. And it’s transferring to their writing. I give the students about 15 minutes, twice per week, to work on their worksheets and complete their writers conferences. Students see their own progress on the skills they need.

The author of this article, Mark Pennington, has written the assessment-based Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) Grades 4-8 programs to teach the Common Core Language Standards. Each

Pennington Publishing's Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand)

Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand)
Grades 4-8 Programs

full-year program provides 56 interactive grammar, usage, and mechanics and include sentence diagrams, error analysis, mentor texts, writing applications, and sentence dictation formative assessments with accompanying worksheets (L.1, 2). Plus, each grade-level program has weekly spelling pattern tests and accompanying spelling sort worksheets (L.2), 56 language application opener worksheets (L.3), and 56 vocabulary worksheets with multiple-meaning words, Greek and Latin word parts, figures of speech, word relationships with context clue practice, connotations, and four square academic language practice (L.4, 5, and 6). Comprehensive biweekly unit tests measure recognition, understanding, and application of all language components.

Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) also has the resources to meet the needs of diverse learners. Diagnostic grammar, usage, mechanics, and spelling assessments provide the data to enable teachers to individualize instruction with targeted worksheets. Each remedial worksheet (over 200 per program) includes independent practice and a brief formative assessment. Students CATCH Up on previous unmastered Standards while they KEEP UP with current grade-level Standards. Check out the YouTube introductory video of the Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) program.

 

Grammar/Mechanics, Spelling/Vocabulary, Writing , , , , , , ,

Teaching Reading to Your Child

One of the true joys and responsibilities of parenthood is teaching your child to read. But wait… isn’t that the teacher’s job? Of course it is, but the best approach is always an effective and complementary home-school partnership. Whether your child is in pre-school, kindergarten, or first grade he or she can and will learn to read with your help. As an MA Reading Specialist and educational author, I’ve done all of the “prep” work necessary for parents to hold up their end of the home-school partnership in these Teaching Reading to Your Child tools and resources. You don’t have to be a reading expert; you’ve got back-up.

Teaching Your Child to Read Well

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/reading/teaching-your-child-to-read-well/

Every child needs to learn to read well. Reading is the essential life skill. Parents have the responsibility and joy to teach their children to read at home. True, teachers have an important role; however, the school-home partnership leads to the greatest degree of success.

Teach Your Child to Read

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/reading/teach-your-child-to-read/

Every parent can teach his or her child to read and assist pre-school, kindergarten, and first grade teachers as helpful partners in this process. With these resources from Pennington Publishing, parents will learn how to diagnostically assess their children’s reading or pre-reading abilities. Assessments and answers provided! Additionally, parents will learn how to teach phonemic awareness, phonics, sight words, word families (rimes), and reading comprehension. Most importantly, parents will learn how to read to and with their child.

Free Whole Class Diagnostic ELA/Reading Assessments

http://penningtonpublishing.com/

Download free phonemic awareness, vowel sound phonics, consonant sound phonics, sight word, rimes, sight syllables, fluency, grammar, mechanics, and spelling assessments. All with answers and recording matrices. Just what committed parents need to assess relative strengths and weaknesses in their own child’s reading skills. Simple to give, correct, and understand.

Phonemic Awareness Activities

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/reading/phonemic-awareness-activities/

Phonemic awareness is the core understanding that spoken words are made up of individual speech sounds. The phonemic awareness skills that parents can teach their children include Rhyming Awareness, Alphabetic Awareness, Syllable Awareness and Syllable Manipulation, Phonemic Isolation, Phonemic Blending, Phonemic Segmentation. Reading research is clear that beginning readers with solid phonemic awareness skills learn how to read more efficiently and successfully.

Phonemic Awareness Activities

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/reading/how-to-teach-phonics/

Teaching phonics is essential to effective reading instruction. Learning the phonetic code teaches the beginning or remedial reader to become efficient and automatic problem-solvers about how words are constructed. Learning these basic sound-spelling correspondences will also pay off once your child begins reading multisyllabic expository text. Get a great set of free phonics cards and an instructional sequence of blending letter sounds that makes sense.

Phonics Games

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/reading/phonics-games/

Learning to read is challenging work, but it should also be fun. Interactive reading instruction that is fun will teach positive associations with reading to both beginning and remedial readers. Simple drill and kill exercises simply will not. Get interactive phonics games that keep your child’s interest and will reinforce skills and help memorization in this article.

Word Families (Rimes) Activities

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/reading/rimes-word-families-activities/

Although systematic explicit phonics instruction should be the focus of beginning reading instruction, as a reading specialist I support an eclectic approach to teaching your child to read. In addition to phonics, teaching the basic word families, also known as rimes, can pay big benefits. Now to be certain that I don’t lead you astray, let’s be clear that I do mean rimes, and not rhymes, although the two are related, especially in terms of instructional practice. Simply defined, the rime consists of a vowel and final consonants, such as “ock.” The rime usually follows an initial consonant, e.g. “s,” or consonant blend, e.g. “cl,” to form words, e.g., “sock” or “clock.” Learning the common rimes can help beginning readers recognize common chunks of letters within words. Get rimes lists and fun activities here.

Sight Word Activities

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/reading/sight-word-activities/

Although you should teach your child to follow the phonics rules, you should also teach the Outlaw Words. That’s right… stick ‘em up, cowboy! These words break the law, that is they break the rules of the alphabet code and are non-phonetic. Words such as the and above are Outlaw Words because readers can’t sound them out. Unfortunately, many of our high frequency and high utility words happen to be non-decodable. Get word lists and activities here.

Mark Pennington, MA Reading Specialist, is the author of the comprehensive reading intervention curriculum, Teaching Reading Strategies. Designed to significantly increase the reading

Pennington Publishing's Teaching Reading Strategies

Teaching Reading Strategies

abilities of students ages eight through adult within one year, the curriculum is decidedly un-canned, is adaptable to various instructional settings, and is simple to use—a perfect choice for Response to Intervention tiered instructional levels. Get multiple choice diagnostic reading assessments , formative assessments, blending and syllabication activitiesphonemic awareness, and phonics workshops, comprehension worksheets, multi-level fluency passages recorded at three different reading speeds and accessed on YouTube, 586 game cards, posters, activities, and games.

Also get the accompanying Sam and Friends Phonics Books. These eight-page decodable take-home books include sight words, word fluency practice, and phonics instruction aligned to the instructional sequence found in Teaching Reading Strategies. Each book is illustrated by master cartoonist, David Rickert. The cartoons, characters, and plots are designed to be appreciated by both older remedial readers and younger beginning readers. The teenage characters are multi-ethnic and the stories reinforce positive values and character development. Your students (and parents) will love these fun, heart-warming, and comical stories about the adventures of Sam and his friends: Tom, Kit, and Deb. Oh, and also that crazy dog, Pug.

Everything teachers need to teach a diagnostically-based reading intervention program for struggling readers at all reading levels is found in this comprehensive curriculum. Ideal for students reading two or more grade levels below current grade level, English-language learners, and Special Education students. Simple directions and well-crafted activities truly make this an almost no-prep curriculum. Works well as a half-year intensive program or full-year program, with or without paraprofessional assistance.

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